What I didn’t understand when I started my CPA firm is that every business is a marketing business! A business without customers is called a hobby. This leads to the major problem that most new business owners discover: They may be good at what they do, but they must become experts at marketing and selling if they want to have a successful business.
I think Bill Glazer (the author of Outrageous Advertising That’s Outrageously Successful) explained best when he said,
“I have a two thing business—Getting new customers and keeping them as long as possible.”
The question I usually get is, “How do I become a sales and marketing expert?” The following are the steps I have used over the last 20+ years to teach myself.
- Change your mindset about sales and marketing. Too many business owners, especially professionals (doctors, lawyers, CPAs, architects, etc.) view salespeople with disdain. You must eliminate that attitude now! If you really believe that your product or service will transform your customer/client/patient’s life, then you have a moral obligation to provide it to as many people as possible. This can only be done by selling it.
- Educate yourself. Read as many books as you can about sales and marketing. I would start with the following books:
- Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson
- Sales Bible by Jeffrey Gitomer
- Duct Tape Marketing by John Janstch
- All of the No B.S. series by Dan Kennedy. I would start with No B.S. Direct Marketing
- Outrageous Advertising That’s Outrageously Successful by Bill Glazer
- SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies by Jill Konrath
- Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes
- LinkedIn Marketing an Hour a Day by Viveka van Rosen
- Stick Like Glue by Jim Palmer
- Take some marketing courses. Check out sales online training with Jeffrey Gitomer (www.salesblog.com) and Steve Clark (www.newschoolselling.com).
- Find and hire a sales and marketing coach. Being an entrepreneur in charge of marketing and sales is a lonely job. Having a coach gives you an outsider’s perspective, an experienced voice, and a deadline for getting stuff done. Don’t underestimate the value of a deadline. Without one, the everyday demands of your business and the natural inclination to procrastinate when faced with something you’re not good at will delay (sometimes forever) your work on sales and marketing. One of the key things a coach does is get you on schedule.
- Subscribe to sales and marketing magazines and blogs. And read them constantly! You must think about sales and marketing your business 24 hours a day. Heck, you should dream about it! Don’t forget to check out our magazine every month. We cover marketing and sales every month and provide you with homework to help you improve.
- Create a marketing plan. A good resource for preparing a marketing plan is Guerilla Marketing in 30 Days by Jay Conrad Levinson.
- Create a 12-month implementation plan of your marketing plan. The motto of this magazine and my coaching programs is Good Ideas + Action = Massive Profits. You have to do the work. Having a marketing plan and sticking it in your desk drawer won’t accomplish anything.
- Choose sales tools that fit your budget. Once you do, commit to sticking with them for at least six months. It takes time for marketing to work. Don’t make the mistake of giving up after only a couple of tries.
- Make a monthly appointment with yourself to review your marketing. Every marketing plan needs to be adjusted based on how your prospects and customers react to it. It is a good idea to A/B test every part of your sales and marketing process. Remember, results are all that matter! Keep experimenting and improving until you get the marketing message and sales methods that deliver sales.
- Set aside time to sell weekly. This is particularly important for professionals and technical businesses (mechanics, contractors, etc.) that put more importance on getting the work done correctly than they do on sales and marketing. It is extremely easy to get lost in doing the work that needs to be completed now, but doing so usually results in not having any work lined up once the current job is completed. It is important to always be selling so that the work pipeline is always full.
Remember, every business is a sales business first! That means that every business owner must become an expert marketing and sales professional in order to be successful.